Human authors, even at the talent level of a Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare, or in this case Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, all hit the glass ceiling of the limitations of human conventional thinking.
I love the Left Behind books and movies. I have read all twelve volumes of the Left Behind series, cover-to-cover three times. I will probably read them again sometime in the near future. I love the adventure, the characters, and the way that various people come to salvation faith.
But the Left Behind books and movies unwittingly answer the important question raised earlier about the most effective way to reach the world with the gospel. Even when great writers attempt to popularize something that will be as supernatural as the end-times tribulation period occurring at the end of human redemptive history, the limitations of everyone’s ability to step into the large creative shoes of God and foresee the future in terms of God’s higher unconventional ways, are exposed.
We unquestionably have the creative license to write fictional Christian romances and tales composed around inspiring everyday experiences of God acting in our lives. Does this same literary license extend to the genre of end-times biblical prophecy? Have the writers of the Left Behind books crossed over the line of spiritual propriety in composing a complete depiction of the upcoming end-times, when God’s own revelation in scripture is purposely intended to be partial and incomplete?
There is a difference between the creative license to use fiction to describe Christian everyday experience, such as John Bunyan used in The Pilgrim’s Progress, compared to the creative license of presuming to be able to extrapolate a particular eschatological viewpoint into a complete, partly fictionalized narrative of the entire biblical end-times scenario.
If the Left Behind construction of events is entirely accurate, then Lucifer is now fully informed as to what lies ahead. But if the Left Behind construction of events is not entirely accurate, why are we relying upon something for our end-times prophecy interpretation that is not truly definitive?
Does the need to stretch the biblical end-times revelation with fiction in order to connect all of the dots to fit within the medium of the modern adventure novel format, excuse the necessity to morph this fiction into a hybrid mixture of unreal characters and storylines that are no longer purely biblical in nature? Is the initial concept of mixing end-times biblical prophecy with adventure novel fiction, because of the inherent serious nature of the subject matter, a misguided enterprise from the outset?
Would the creation of four or five competing 12-volume literary works representing the other eschatology viewpoints, enlisting writers of the quality of a Ludlum, Clancy, DeMille, Cussler, or Follett, and likewise utilizing an exciting and suspense-filled action adventure format, edify or detract from the biblical end-times prophecy discussion? This unquestionably would make for some additional, entertaining late-night and weekend reading.
I would love to read Clive Cussler’s or Ken Follett’s account of Christians walking through walls or de-materializing like Philip (Acts 8:39) to escape from enemies, or pulling apples out of the thin air for food, according to the end-times interpretation of many Christians that God will supernaturally shelter His church in a wilderness type protective setting.
But would this fictional adventure novel approach result in a furtherance of Paul’s insightful self-revelation of the power-position of being worldly last as a servant in God’s gospel outreach to mankind (1 Corinthians 4:9)? Or would this approach result in a worldly diluted compromise of the supernatural, unimaginably higher activities of God during the upcoming tribulation, after the pattern already revealed in the works of God portrayed in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible?
Is the carefully premeditated and balanced extent of God’s revelation of upcoming end-times events God’s way of saying “hands-off” in this one area of inspired biblical revelation? Are we walking along the dangerous edge of a precipice when we attempt to promote a particular biblical ideology by using the literary device of the adventure novel to articulate our views?
Do we want to leave Christian and non-Christian readers with the faith-based view of the Apostle Paul displaying the humility level that will produce genuine Holy Spirit power for Joel 2:28-29 type service, or do we want to leave readers with the entertaining but unrealistic fiction-based view of Christians jet-setting all over the planet to rescue one another in conformity to a high-energy, Clive Cussler style adventure novel? With all of the communication tools available to the modern Christian church, this is a question that all Christians will have to divide, separate, and answer for themselves.
The end-times revelation of God is not that the church will be raptured pretribulation, but that the mystery of iniquity will be exposed through the latter-rain preaching of Spirit-empowered Joel 2:28-29 Christians and Holy Spirit engineered events. It is the added push of the Spirit poured out upon all flesh in the world that is the element that takes our understanding and our facility with the pin-point accurate truth of the gospel, to a level of power and boldness equal to or beyond that experienced in the early church.
A critical point in this discussion is that only God could engineer salvation out of the negative rejection, incomprehension, and unbelief of mankind in first-century Israel and the contemporary Greco-Roman world. Redemption from sin through the atonement of the cross of Calvary is counter-intuitive to conventional thinking at the extreme limits of reality of any type or kind whatsoever…divine or humanistic (Isa. 53). The sheer originality of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus are beyond the reach of human creative literary imagination, composed within the puzzling, humanly unimaginable context of deadly rejection and ignorant unbelief.